It’s that time of year (Spring is in the air!) and the rabbits are doing what rabbits do best: breeding. This means you may come across a rabbit’s nest or two in your gardens, planters or yards. Every year, wildlife rehab centers are overwhelmed with well-meaning nest robbers who came across a rabbit’s nest and did not know what to do with the baby bunnies inside. To avoid being a nest robber yourself, here are a few tips on what to do if you come across a nest:
1) Leave it alone!
More often than not, the best thing you can do is to leave the nest alone and don’t disturb it. You’re likely not going to see Mom anywhere nearby, she’s usually hiding someplace and hoping you leave her nest alone. Baby bunnies grow up quickly (they are usually independent at around 2 weeks of age) so you won’t have to worry about avoiding it for too long. Many people will find bunny nests because of their pet dog sniffing it out or while walking around, mowing the lawn. For at least 2 weeks, avoid mowing around the nest and keep your dog on a leash outside so they don’t go dig up the baby bunnies.
2) What if Mom “abandoned” the nest?
As mentioned above, you will usually not see Mom around, she’s going to be hiding. So if you’re worried about the babies starving, what to do? The answer is to leave a light cross-hatching of grass and/or twigs over the opening of the nest and stay away for 24-48 hours. Mom may not come right away, she will be cautious about drawing a predator to the nest, but if she comes to visit the nest, she will disturb the grass/twigs and you will know that she visited while you were not looking.
3) Mom hasn’t come by!
If you have genuinely insured that Mom is not coming by, and the crosshatch has not been disturbed in 48 hours, then you can check to see if there are babies inside – the nest may also be empty! If you do find babies, call your local wildlife rehab center. If you are in our area, the closest center is Flint Creek Wildlife Rehab Do not try to care for the babies yourself! Raising baby bunnies by hand is very tricky and requires special training. Attempting to raise them yourself may result in serious injury, illness, malnutrition and even death. It is also important to minimize handling as much as possible, you do not want these bunnies to become comfortable with people, remember that these are wild animals, and we want them to stay wild for their own protection.